golf terms lingo explained

Golf Terms Explained – A Fool-Proof Guide To Golf Lingo

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Struggling to understand what a bogey or a par is? Not sure of the difference between a slice and a shank? What about a divot or a gimme?

No worries, we’ve got your back.

For the beginner golfer, the terms are damn right weird and confusing. What the hell does half of it mean?

Well, we’re about to tee off and hit the dancefloor, so get ready to become an expert.

Once you’ve checked out our guide of golf terms explained below, you can impress your mates out on the fairways with your golf lingo, as well as your killer technique.

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Golf Course Terms Explained

Golf course terms

Once you’re up to scratch and ready to hit the course, you want to use all the strange terminology. While some are self-explanatory, many are not so obvious.

It can seem like golfers are talking a different language, but we’re here to translate. Here’s the golf course terms explained:

Hole

Now, come on. If you don’t know this one, it’s going to take a while to get in the loop. It’s really what it says it is.

The game’s aim is to get the ball in the hole that’s located on the green. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, it’s the most frustrating part of the game

Putt

The action of knocking the ball into the hole on the green. Watching your mate trying is always complete and putter madness. But, be prepared, it’s only funny until your turn comes around.

Fairway

The area between the tee-box and the green. If you don’t hit the fairway from your drive, we’ve got some bad news. Your mates who found the fairway are off to a better start.

If it was that bad, you can always ask for a mulligan from the gang.

Tee Box

Where the glory starts (or the frustration). You tee off at the beginning of each hole to gain distance up the fairway, or possibly land on the dancefloor. Some like it, some don’t.

Hitting a straight shot off the tee box is always satisfying, but there’s always a mate that shanks or slices it.

Green

The patch of grass at the end of the fairway that’s as well maintained as your retired neighbour’s garden. It’s always perfectly trimmed. You want to end up on here. If you do, then you’re dancing on the dancefloor.

Rough

Landing here is rough. It’s the longer grass usually located on either side of the fairway. If you’re having an off day, you might find yourself in the rough. And believe us, hitting back out of the rough is a bloody nightmare!

Bunker

Don’t even get us started. These pesky sand traps are always getting in the way. They are usually placed around the fairway or surrounding the green.

Getting in the bunker is easily done, but getting out can be hard. It can sometimes cause a Happy Gilmore rage.

Fore

While this can be fun to shout, it’s a lifesaver. It’s shouted when a ball is heading towards someone, and you want them to cover their heads and duck.

So, you can’t hit the green, but for some reason, you can nearly hit an OAP?

Executive Course

If you’re playing an executive course, we’re afraid it’s not as VIP as it sounds. It’s essentially a shorter course than your average, with a par of 65 or less.

It’s great for beginners, so hit these up if you’re looking to dip your toes in the water and lose your course virginity.

Golf course terms

Links

The holy grail of golf courses. You’ve probably got that mate with tall tales about how he played the original links, the Old Course… yeah right.

It’s the most desired for a reason though, the natural terrain makes for a challenging game. But with challenges, comes frustration.

Caddie

The friend that comes along but can’t play. Just kidding. Caddies are incredibly useful. It’s a person who helps carry your clubs and gives you advice out on the fairways. They are experts of the loop with valuable knowledge.

Making your mate that loses a bet your caddie next time round is a laugh.

Fringe

The awkward grass around the green. It’s not the fairway, it’s not the green. It’s a slightly longer length than the greens, but you can still sink a putt from here – if you’re a scratch golfer that is.

Slope

It’s a term used to describe how difficult the course is. If the slope is higher, then the course is harder. Always a good excuse to use at the 19th hole though, hey?

Scratch

The scratch golfer is a status that all amateurs dream of. You don’t want to place any bets against this person. Pair up with them if you’re playing in twos though. 

They have a handicap of zero which means they score a par or better on every hole.

Hazards

Why can’t we just have a clear fairway? It’s the terrible three: bunkers, water hazards, and the rough. Sometimes it’s as if a few of the squad’s shots gravitate towards these.

Out-of-Bounds

If you end up here you’ve flunked it. You’re too far gone at this point and there could be a potential penalty. It depends on how nice the group are that you’re playing with.

There’s always that one mate who implements harsh rules like they’re part of the USGA.

Water Hazard

A body of water placed anywhere on the fairway. Hitting these not only adds to the scorecard, but you lose your ball. It’s a kick in the teeth.

Don’t send your ball swimming, send it to the green instead.


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Golf Scoring Terms Explained

Golf course terms

Yep, that’s right. Even the scoring terms for golf are weird. Having a grasp of these will make you sound like an expert on the greens and understand what everybody means from a birdie to a bogey.

Par

The required number of shots to complete a hole. You could say you’re on par with a scratch golfer if you achieve a par. It’s a solid effort!

Birdie

Scoring one under par. An example would be taking 4 shots to complete a par-5. You’re no beginner if you’re getting birdies. It’s a good achievement that should earn respect from the gang.

Eagle

Scoring two under par. So, it would take you 3 shots to complete a par-5. You should have a few rounds of beer bought for you if you get an eagle.

Albatross  

Why are you still working your 9-5? It’s a score of three under par. So, it would take you two shots to complete a par-5. Who does that? Even a pro would be over the moon with an albatross.

Seriously, if you’ve got this on your locker, quit your day job and sign up for the next Masters.

Hole-in-One

If you’ve not heard this before, then you’ve been living under a rock. Even people who have never picked up a 7-iron know what this is. It’s when it takes you one shot to complete the hole.

These usually happen on a par-3 and will give you a legend status. Everybody in the clubhouse has to buy you a pint if you manage this, it’s an unwritten rule.

Bogey

When you score one over par.  It’s decent for the scorecards and certainly something a beginner or duffer would take. It won’t mess up your scorecards.

Double Bogey

When you score two over par. This is one more shot than a bogey. You’ve not failed, but you’re starting to slip up and let your mates take over.

Triple Bogey

Oh dear. Where did it all go wrong? Three over par. Kiss goodbye to that winning jackpot money if you’re getting a triple bogey. We hope you’re ready for the banter from your mates at the clubhouse after this one.

Handicap

The dreaded question for the average duffer: “What’s your handicap, mate?” It’s a numerical measurement of a golfer’s ability. The lower the handicap, the better.

We all start with a high handicap; some never leave the high handicap range…


Funny Golf Terms Explained

Golf course terms

Apart from playing, the funny terms are loved by everybody. It’s one of the best parts. Golf has an ever-growing list of funny golf terms to describe blunders on the fairway, post-golf activities, or somebody’s skill level.

Use these on the fairways or at the 19th to get a laugh out of your mates.

Gimme

A putt that’s so close it’s not even worth taking the shot. If your mates won’t give you a gimme, even if you could blow it in, it’s probably a playful jab at your abilities.

Lumberjack

A golfer who always hits the woods rather than the fairway or the green. For some reason, some players just love taking bark out of the trees…

Mulligan

Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s tough swinging in front of an audience, especially when you shank it into the woods or slice it into a water hazard. This is when a mulligan is called for. It’s another attempt that doesn’t get recorded on the scorecards.

Swing Oil

Yep, you guessed right. It’s the good stuff: beer. Whether you have a drink at the halfway house or celebrate at the clubhouse, it’s a rite of passage. Some even claim to play better after a beer halfway through. Others, not so much.

Which one are you?

Duffer

We’re afraid to say if you’re just starting, this is probably you. It’s a playful way of naming an inexperienced golfer, or the name for a bad shot.

Afraid of the Dark

A classic excuse from the mate with the awful short game. “It won’t go in the hole; my ball is afraid of the dark”. Translation: “My short game is awful and I’m not accurate enough to putt the ball into the hole”.

19th Hole

Everybody’s favourite hole. While you’re playing, it’s at the back of everybody’s mind. It’s where all bets are paid up, the banter about the round begins, and you get stuck into a comforting meal and a few beverages.

Dawn Patrol

A term used to describe golfers who love the early morning tee-offs, or “breakfast tees”. These golfers have most likely not been out on the lash the night before, but they’re probably going to that evening.

Divot

You can’t beat a good old divot. It’s when you take a large chunk out of the ground with your swing attempt. It’s always funny watching your mate hit the ground more than the ball. It is course etiquette to fix these, if possible.

Chilli-Dip

Another fun term used to describe a swing that takes a large divot out of the ground. It’s used more commonly for a chip shot instead. Everybody laughs at a chilli-dip; it reminds them of Happy Gilmore.

Mouth Wedge

Shout out to the friend who talks too much when somebody is taking a shot. It’s common courtesy for everybody to be silent while a shot is taken, but they just don’t.

Maybe they’re trying to put you off? Maybe they’re just winding you up? Either way, it’s annoying.

Dancefloor

A funny term used to describe the green. If you land here, you’ll be dancing to celebrate a successful approach shot.

Shank

You’ve had a nightmare if you hit a shank. It’s when a swing goes immediately to the right. At least it might be useful on a dogleg, right?

Slice

When a shot goes from left to right because of a sidespin. These can help to avoid hazards and place yourself nicely on the fairways.


Golf Betting Names Explained

Golf betting terms

How about some golf-betting game names? Knowing any of these will impress the team, spice up your round, and make you look like a golfing natural.

Greenies

A game where a small sum of money is put into a Kittie before playing a hole. It usually occurs on a par-3, as the person that gets closest to the pin wins the Kittie.

It’s a great side game that could buy you a pint or two at the clubhouse if you win.

Bingo, Bango, Bongo!

It’s a great game for beginners to play. Points are given based on Bingo: which player lands on the dancefloor first, Bango: the player that ends up closest to the hole when everybody is on the green, and Bongo: the first player to sink the putt.


FAQ

What do you call it when you hit a golf ball?

Golf has a complex and long list of terms. Most commonly it’s known as a swing or a shot. Check out our list of terms above for the best ways to describe the many different types of shots.

It depends on whether you’ve hit the ball well or not, what direction it’s heading in, and what type of shot it is.

What do you call a good golf shot?

When it comes to a good shot in golf, there are many terms used to describe it. Whether you’re looking for general slang or you’re trying to complement somebody’s game, our list can help you out. The best kind of shot is a “hole-in-one”.

What is a bad shot in golf called?

Whether you’re looking for an accurate term or one to mock your mate’s bad shot on the fairways, there are loads to choose from.

Some examples are a “duff”, “shank”, or “stinker”. The shank is considered by many as the worst type of shot in golf.


🏌️ Final Thoughts

Similar to the way you’re learning to play, you’ll pick up the terms as you go. Practice makes perfect. Golf is a complex sport, with complex terminology, but picking it up is bound to impress your mates in the 19th hole.

Follow our idiot-proof guide to golf terminology and you’ll sound like a pro in no time and check The Clubhouse for everything golf.

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